Yell.com Threatens to Shutdown Yellowikis
Posted under Creative Commons

David versus Goliath story; an example of monster corporation taking advantage of the current pro trademark and copyright legislation to kill off a startup. Picked up from Ross Mayfield's Weblog: Yell Threatens to Shut Down Yellowikis.

Yell.com is already under investigations for monopoly abuse of the directories market in the UK. Yell.com recently bought TPI, yellow-pages Spain, to maintain market growth in spite of Office of Fair Trading investigations in the UK. The architypal incumbent ex-state monopoly.

Yellowikis is a yellow page service in wiki format. Rosa Blaus suggested to her father, Paul Youlten, that they set up Yellowikis after she noticed small businesses were deleted from Wikipedia for not being "encyclopaedic".Yellowikis has been growing at 8.7% month-on-month and has 494 editors and about 5,000 articles listed.

Yell is demanding that Paul and Rosa close down the website, transfer the domain names to Yell and agree to pay damages to Yell for loss of profits. Yell made $2.4bn in 2005, whereas Yellowikis had a loss of $500. The $500 was used to print T-shirts promoting Yellowikis at the Wikimania conference in Frankfurt.

Yellowiki can argue jurisdiction, since Yellow Pages is not a trademark in the U.S. It is, however, a trademark in the U.K. It would be interesting to see the verdict on geographic jurisdiction from whatever international court arbitrates this case. I hope WIPO does not get involved since, from past experience, they bias towards encumbents.

Given the dubious nature of the yell.com case, Paul and Rosa may survive the cease-and-desist and its subsequent arbitration with a little legal help from a Creative Commons institution, and digital rights activitists at the EFF.


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» Wikis and Pandora Boxes from E-Communications & Community
Yellowikis was started in 2004 by father and daughter team, Paul Youlten and 14-year old Rosa Blaus. Yellowikis is an online, participatory directory, which uses free wiki software MediaWiki as its technology framework. The site is run as a hobby... [Read More]

Comments

I find this kind of bullying offensive and disgusting. Judging from what I've read of the case, there should be no way that Yell would be able to pull this one, but unfortunately I don't feel that confident on the judicial system(s).

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